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Victoria Shepherd

Dr Victoria Shepherd

Senior Research Fellow - Nurse

School of Medicine

Neuadd Meirionnydd, Room 413, University Hospital of Wales, Heath Park, Cardiff, CF14 4YS
Available for postgraduate supervision


I am a Senior Research Fellow based in the Centre for Trials Research where I have a special interest in research involving under-served populations with a particular focus on populations and settings where informed consent can be challenging such as older people living in care homes, critical care and emergency settings, and trials involving the use of proxy and 'deferred consent' models.

I lead a programme of methodological research exploring the ethical, legal and practical issues around research involving adults who lack capacity consent. This includes a current NIHR Advanced Fellowship and a previous NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship. This research programme includes the development of complex interventions to address the ethical and methodological barriers to conducting trials with adults who lack capacity. As part of this research programme, a website providing information and resources on capacity and consent to research has been developed:

I am involved in and lead a number of care home research studies, including leading a study to establish the research priorities in care homes using consensus-based methods, and am a member of a number of national and international care home research collaborations. I am Chair of the ENRICH Cymru Advisory Group. Prior to this I had an extensive clinical career as a Registered Nurse, the majority spent in critical care settings in England and Wales. I am also an expert member on an NHS Research Ethics Committee. Within CTR I co-lead the Inclusivity in Trials/Studies Group and the RN&AHP Group.














Book sections



Adults with impaired capacity to consent

My primary research interest is addressing the ethical and methodological challenges around the inclusion of adults lacking capacity in research. I currently hold an NIHR Advanced Fellowship 'Deciding about research for others: a feasibility study and effectiveness trial of a novel decision support intervention for consultees and legal representatives of adults lacking capacity to consent (CONSULT)' (2021-2026). The intervention (a decision support tool to enhance proxy decision-making for research will be evaluated using a 'Study Within A Trial' (SWAT) design to embed the evaluation in up to 5 host trials.

As part of the CONSULT project, I led a qualitative study exploring researchers and healthcare professionals' views about the barriers and facilitators to conducting trials involving adults lacking capacity to consent (CONSULT-ENABLE Study). I am also leading the CONSULT-ADVANCE Study to explore stakeholders' views about the feasibility and acceptability of advance research planning, which is a process for people to express their wishes about research participation in advance of any loss of capacity to consent. I currently hold a Churchill Fellowship to explore international perspectives on advance planning for research with visits to Canada and Australia in 2024.

I am leading the development of a core outcome set to evaluate interventions that enhance proxy decisions about participation on behalf of adults who lack capacity (COnSiDER Study) which is registered on the COMET database (#1409). Alongside this, I am developing a new outcome measure to assess the quality of decisions made about research on behalf of someone who lacks capacity to consent - the Combined Scale for Proxy Informed Consent Decisions (CONCORD scale).

I also lead the development of the NIHR INCLUDE Impaired Capacity to Consent Framework which is a tool to help researchers to design trials involving adults with impaired capacity to consent. An implementation toolkit is being developed as part of a project supported by 'Innovation for All' funding from Cardiff University (2022-2023). I am now leading a project to develop stakeholder-informed CONSULT training for researchers on the design and conduct of trials involving adults with impaired capacity to consent.

I previously held an NIHR Doctoral Research Fellowship to explore the ethical, legal and practical challenges around the inclusion of these under-represented populations, using mixed-methods and interdisciplinary approaches (2016-2019). I led a follow on study to conduct cognitive testing of the decision support intervention (DECISION 2 Study) funded by the Wellcome Trust through ISSF Institutional Funding (2020).

I supervise a number of Intercalated BSc medical students and PhD projects in this area, and recently curated research and resources on 'Research and capacity to consent' for Social Care Wales' website (Welsh version: ).

Care Homes

I have a special interest in care home research. I led a UK wide Research Priority Setting in Care Homes Study, which aimed to identify a set of research priorities for care home research with a key group of stakeholders, and a current core outcome set for the prevention of COVID-19 in care homes (COS COVID PCARE). I am also involved in collaborating with other national and international researchers/institutions to develop research proposals involving older people in long term care, some of which address areas identified as research priorities.

I am co-applicant on a project developing self-management support training for carers of older adults with osteoarthritis and additional conditions (SUSTAIN), and a project to explore the implementarion of the Mental Capacity Act in care homes (ENACT).

Clinical Trials

Previous research activities include contributing to the design, delivery and reporting of multicentre randomised controlled trials, including: Children with Eczema, Antibiotic Management - CREAM Study (NIHR HTA), Oral STeroids for the Resolution of otitis media with effusion (OME) In Children – OSTRICH Study (NIHR HTA) and Probiotics to Reduce Infections iN CarE home reSidentS – PRINCESS Study (NIHR EME).

I am leading a 'Study Within A project' (SWAP) which is a methodological study embedded with a trial to evaluate the clinical and cost effectiveness of a co-designed individualised osteo-arthritis self-management support intervention for promoting health related quality of life and reducing healthcare costs (TIPTOE) (2023-2026). The embedded SWAP will explore and address the recruitment and retention of underserved groups in the trial and identify barriers to their inclusion. I also lead a second SWAP exploring the inclusion of under-served groups (including frailer older people) in a trial of adjuvant radiotherapy in patients with high-risk primary cutaneous squamous cell carcinoma after surgery (SCC-AFTER) (2023-2030), alongside a QUINTET QRI.

Trials Methodology Research

I am interested in research to improve the conduct of trials, with a particular focus on improving inclusivity of under-served populations in research. I co-lead the inclusivity theme of the Trial Conduct Working Group of the MRC-NIHR Trials Methodology Research Partnership.

Research Ethics

I am involved in a number of projects exploring ethical aspects of research, including models of consent used in different research contexts such as emergency situations, and patient and clinician decisions.


Honours and awards

NHS 75 Faces of Nursing Research (2024)

Finalist in in Wales Nurse of the Year Awards - Supporting Improvement Through Research Award (runner up, 2019)

PhD Deciding about research for others: normative, empirical, and legal accounts of proxy decision-making for research and the development of a decision support intervention (November 2019)

BSc Acute and Critical Care, MA Healthcare Law and Ethics. Dissertation: Vulnerable populations in medical research: is research regulation ‘protecting them to death'? (September 2014)

Professional memberships

NMC (Nursing and Midwifery Council)

Institute of Medical Ethics

RCN Wales Nurse of the Year Alumni Network

Committees and reviewing

Member of NHS Research Ethics Committee (2019-present)

Chair of ENRICH Cymru Advisory Group (2021-present)

Consultant Editor in clinical trials & care homes studies for Geriatrics, Gerontology and Aging (March 2020-present)

Journal reviewer (e.g Trials, Age and Ageing, Nurse Education in Practice)

Grant reviewer (e.g NIHR, Health and Care Research Wales, Dunhill Medical Trust)


I am interested in supervising PhD students in the areas of:

  • trials methodology research focusing on the inclusion of under-served groups
  • ethical and legal issues in research involving populations where there may be challenges around capacity to consent
  • care homes and care home research
  • nursing with a particular focus on critical care and the care of older people

Current PhD supervision:

Title: Engaging care home residents in research: identification of barriers and facilitators and the development of an intervention to support residents in decision-making and advance planning for research (ENGAGE)

PhD student: Brittany Nocivelli

Supervision team: Prof Fiona Wood, Dr Victoria Shepherd, Prof Kerry Hood, Prof Carolyn Wallace

This mixed-methods PhD project aims to explore how care home residents and their carers can be better engaged in research, and the barriers and facilitators to their inclusion. Using established intervention development methods, an intervention will be developed to support conversations about research with care home residents and facilitate advance planning for research participation. The findings will support opportunities for care home residents to participate in research, have their voices heard, and receive quality evidence-based care in the future. It is funded through a Health and Care Research Wales Social Care PhD studentship (2021-2024).

Further details:

Title: Making it easier for trial teams to design inclusive trials

PhD student: Azar Alexander-Sefre

Supervision team: Prof Shaun Treweek, Dr Heidi Gardner, Dr Victoria Shepherd, Dr Frances Sherratt

Trial participants need to represent those in society who are intended to benefit from the outcomes of the trial. The groups needing representation most will vary from trial to trial. An under-served group for one type of trial may be very different to that of another. Reasons for why under-served groups are not included in some research can be complex, but solutions to resolve inclusion barriers are easier to determine if considered from the outset of a trial. Intersectionality goes a step further in recognising that there may be multiple factors (for example ethnicity and gender) that combine and lead to disadvantage or discrimination. A few tools have recently been developed called the INCLUDE Frameworks (see to help trial teams to think about how their design decisions might make it easy or difficult for some groups to take part.The goal of this mixed-methods PhD project is to provide trial teams with a streamlined process to efficiently navigate their way through the Frameworks. To do this, we will firstly need to determine where intersectionality between different under-served groups exist and what this means for researchers who will need to consider these groups when designing their trials. Additionally, the project will consider what kinds of prompts can enable researchers to effectively delve into the barriers and challenges that these intersectional populations may have with participation. Finally, the project will investigate what kinds of solutions researchers could be given to make sure that these critical Framework questions are not only asked but actioned, to ensure their trials are truly inclusive in practice. It is funded through an MRC TMRP DTP Studentship at the University of Aberdeen (2022-2025).

Further details:

Named Supervisor on GW4 Clinical Academic Training Programme for Health Professionals (GW4-CAT HP)

Current supervision

Brittany Nocivelli

Brittany Nocivelli

Research student

External profiles